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Analysis

Is Apple pushing away professionals?

Posted on 14 Oct 2011 at 16:53

The traditional Mac loyalists in the creative industries are starting to turn their back on Apple, finds Stewart Mitchell

Macs have long been regarded as the natural home for creative professionals, even if Apple actually holds surprisingly little sway in a great many areas of design and media work.

However, a series of recent decisions has angered professionals – including the neutering of Final Cut Pro and the near-elimination of matte screens – spawning a belief that the company is turning its back on pros and seeking richer pickings from the scale of the consumer market that can’t get enough of the iPhone and iPad.

Will this agitation end in formerly loyal customers ditching the Mac platform they’ve supported through the lean, pre-iPod years? There are plenty of creative companies that are perfectly happy with Windows, and more are being tempted to join them.

Dominance exaggerated

It’s an unwritten rule that most creatives can’t be prised from their Macs, whether in publishing, graphic design or music. In truth, there are plenty of artistic industries that rely less on the flare and smoothness of OS X and more on the ubiquity, available software and power of Windows-based machines.

In the growing 3D industry, for example, Windows-based 3ds Max calls the shots, with professionals extolling the virtues of being able to present clients with 3D designs that are more flexible, but the software will only run on Macs that dual-boot into Windows.

For illustration and animation studio Finger Industries, taking its hand-drawn illustrations and turning them into 3D models, rather than flat 2D graphics, means clients can use them in campaigns from billboards to animated adverts. “As far as we’re concerned, it’s all 3D-based,” says Marcus Kenyon, founder of the company. “We use 3ds Max mainly, and that still only runs on a PC.

“You can run it on a Mac – because it’s running an Intel chip – but I have one at home and it isn’t very good for our illustration work. You still need PCs to work in 3D, and we use that for everything now.”

Video and music editing

Video editing has a die-hard Windows following, too, and although Apple has a healthy slice of the professional market (33%, according to the Institute of Videography), it’s by no means as pervasive as the product placements in TV and films would have us believe. “Although Apple makes solid, reliable kit, it isn’t very open, and there are so many different plugins and programs available on the PC that people buy into that,” says Kevin Cook, executive administrator of the Institute of Videography.

The relative cheapness of high-end components also increases Windows’ appeal to video professionals. “Since I’d invested in Windows software, you’re loathe to leave it behind, but the integration with [Adobe] Premiere on a PC and all the other programs I use makes me want to stick with the PC,” says Simon Marcus, director of video production company Addictive Media. “It’s also much cheaper, which is always a consideration.”

In music, too, we found that Macs weren’t necessarily top of the pops, with entertainment distribution and creation company Blueprint Digital using Macs only “to make sure things integrate with iTunes properly”.

Working on a PC

In the realm of CAD, although there are programs for Macs, the professionals we spoke to used Windows to run industry-standard software such as SolidWorks.

“Any sort of CAD software is all Windows-based, pretty much across the board,” says Matt Wyre, head of systems at Haughton Design, a consultancy specialising in high-end CAD work for engineering and products. “There’s nothing suitable out there that really runs on the Mac.

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User comments

The question is...

Is Apple bothered, now that they've downgraded Macs to just another device?

By lokash20 on 14 Oct 2011

The only real downsides to a hackinstosh is that you must get the right hardware from the start in order to be able to install/use it properly and upgrading (even minor revisions) can be a pain.

Personally, I like OSX, but the hardware is too expensive for what its worth for me.

I doubt Apple like hackintoshes though, IIRC the hardware is a good source of revenue for them.

By tech3475 on 14 Oct 2011

Solidworks do a free cad system that runs on Apple (as well as linux and windows).Its called Draftsight.

By Jaberwocky on 15 Oct 2011

I see that Lee Brimelow from Adobe has now switched to PC for video tutorials after the Apple/Flash debacle.

By Alperian on 15 Oct 2011

That could make a big difference alperian. When you look at those adobe tutorials done on a max it makes us pc bods feel like we're not using the right version of the software. I have the big 27 inch dell monitor that's identical to the iMac screen and my pc internals are much more powerful than the apple but you still feel like they're saying you're using the wrong platform. Apple doesn't have many friends. Ironically Microsoft is probably their biggest ally.

By TimoGunt on 15 Oct 2011

@tech3475: The OS X license agreement specifically forbids its use on a computer that is not "Apple-branded".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OSx86

By lokash20 on 15 Oct 2011

It's not just the creatives who are upset

The dumbing down goes beyond the apps to the operating system itself. Mac OS X Lion's Mission Control is a pathetic and simplistic replacement for Snow Leopard's powerful and useful Expose and Spaces features.

I'm the administrator of racks of Linux servers and using Mac OS X with Expose/Spaces was a brilliant way to manage dozens of servers -- Mission Control is a tragic disappointment.

My MBP is nearing the end of its useful life and Apple's new attitude suggests it's time to use Linux on the desktop, not just in the data centre.

By Fan_of_the_Penguin on 15 Oct 2011

Slug...

my iMac turned into a slug with OS X Lion - it takes several minutes to boot up now, with Tiger, it took around 20 seconds.

As to glossy displays, it is also a problem here, in Germany, because the equivalent of the HSE says employers can't provide their employees with glossy screens, as they cause more eyestrain.

By big_D on 16 Oct 2011

@lokash20

My post was about something mentioned in the article.

If you personally hate something which discusses anything legally questionable, i suggest not linking to something which says how to do it ;).

By tech3475 on 16 Oct 2011

It's sad

I agree with most of the comments. I've been a Mac user at work (aerospace engineering) and home since 1990 and have been pleased to witness Apple's recent phenomenal growth. I had hoped that this would mean that more engineering applications would come/return to the Mac but this has barely started to happen. I think that Apple's apparent policy of building in obsolescence by abandoning backwards-compatibility is not helping any such trend.

Back in July I needed to upgrade my old home G4 MDD. I had intended to get a high-end machine until I discovered that the new models were all being held back until Lion was released. But Lion doesn't support all of my essential software so I had little choice but to buy a 2010 version Mac Mini (that would still run everything I need under Snow Leopard) before it became obsolete. I have installed Lion on a separate partition but about the only change that I have found slightly useful is the ability to resize windows from any edge.

I also needed a new large monitor that could also be connected to my (work) 2007 Macbook Pro. Since this has a DVI video output which is no longer supported by any Apple monitors, I bought a 27" Dell. This also has the advantage of multiple video inputs as well as a matt screen.

Back in the late 90's several PC using colleagues used to (wrongly) refer to Macs as 'toy' computers. They now seem determined to go precisely in this direction.

By exfan on 16 Oct 2011

Barely noticing?

Apple's focus is on easy to sell products - they care less about whether professionals or creative industries use their products. Their "Quality" mantra has always been a myth to justify the extremely overblown prices they charge for their products - simply because they know ignorant people don't know better (Like GOP voters). The fact that recent product updates reflect their market focus more clearly shouldn't surprise the professional markets. True professionals have always used the Windows platform because there is no Mac Software available for truly professional work - in any area (engineering, legal, publishing, etc).

By arthur_cabot on 19 Oct 2011

It's about time

Finally people are realising that Apple are all about making large profits; does anyone really think they give two hoots about their customers? Their products are aspirational designer accessories that get "updated" far more frequently than neccessary in order to get gullible customers to part with even more of their cash.
It's all about profit and hype.

By paulrigs on 21 Oct 2011

PC Propaganda > Apple saves time.

I have OSX Snow Leopard (must get Lion) and Magic Mouse. I'm writing now from my PC DELL, but I must comment on propaganda-

The software matrix and usability of the mac operating system -> saves thousands of dollars worth of time each year. The ability to hot-swap internals is irrelevant. The time is saved in usability is worth paying twice the price - for a professional.

If this article was talking about people who just surf the net, play games and download tunes it would be relevant.

The PC world should respect Steve Jobs, and his succession plan (which will be flawless) and give Tim Cook a proper go.

By pdbishop on 22 Oct 2011

@paulrigs

They have discovered a new market, which makes them much more money than their traditional market.

The professional market wants high quality products that work. That requires a lot of investment for limited returns - there are only so many professionals out there. That those professionals have been loyal, through thick and thin seems to be irrelevant to Apple, as they have discovered a gullable audience that laps up their products based on rumour.

The "ohh, shiny, shiny" brigade have money and they want the latest "shiny shiny", whether it is good or not. They wear anything which has a logo on it and think that shiny shiny or a big logo makes them chic, that somehow a 200€ T-Shirt with "D+G" on the front is somehow better than the 5€ T-Shirt made by the same employee of a sweatshop in India and sold by C&A...

It is also why the shiny shiny brigade were up in arms with the iPhone 4S... Although it had most of what had been rumoured for the "iPhone 5", it was an insult, because it was still in the old casing, so the shiny shiny brigade couldn't show off their new shiny shiny and get instant street cred.

To be honest, I bought an 24" iMac, back when they were good value for money - it cost 15% more than a similary specified desktop + 24" monitor; then 24" monitors dropped from 1200€ to 200€, but the iMac went up in price. When I looked for a new laptop, I went for a Sony Vaio, because it was better specified and half the price of an equivalent MacBook Pro.

I bought a shiny shiny iPhone 3GS, because it was better than Android and Windows Mobile. In the meantime, both have overtaken iOS and now Apple are playing catch-up (or suing the opposition into oblivion) and even stealing design cues from the competition, to try and catch up.

I use OS X Lion and Windows 7 both on a daily basis, and I really can't see a lot of difference, in terms of reliability and productivity between the two platforms.

The biggest difference today is price, and that isn't in Apple's favour.

By big_D on 22 Oct 2011

Crab Apple

I have found it impossible to get a Mac that works OK. I ordered a BTO 17 2.93Ghz and when it got here looking like an Ikea flatpack table in an unidentifiable box, it ran for an hour and then the screen started flashing violently, so it had to go back. It took awhile to reorder-its traumatic, and I lost my nerve and cancelled, but it came anyway. In the pouring rain some courier I was not expecting rang the bell with the box stood in a big puddle in the rain. He did not even bother to check I was there first- no phone call, and offloaded the machine regardless. I told him it had been cancelled about four days before and he left. But I couldnt free myself of the urge (silly me), and eventually ordered the top of the range BTO model the new one, this years.
Again, it arrived in a van in a plain brown box, and turning it on I discovered that there was a wide dark band running across the lower quarter of the screen.

When the next guy arrived to take this one back to Apple, I asked him whether returns happened often. His reply came straight back: "That's all I'm doin' this week mate. I have to take back faulty iMacs, that's the job" So saying he heaved the machine up dropping the base of the box directly onto the edge of the van's tailboard, and vanished grinning.

Now, as the world's second most profitable company, you would imagine they could afford their own delivery vans from Ireland or Holland direct to you. With the Applecare logo on the side?

Not exactly rocket science is it? Even the new Cardiff store gets theirs from couriers.

Apple do not care, and must be losing money mistreating these machines, surely.

But, even a perfect one has a GLOSSY MIRROR FINISH SCREEN!!!! And cannot use anything other than recent Apple products. And denies you HDMI, and Bluray. PLus the screen is so bright it is difficult to match settings with a printer, and 4Gb of RAM is a joke in poor taste. Ridiculous, so with the bad screen surfaces and the dreadful mouse and touchpad, a photographer is already suffering but they cannot even manage to put lens profiles in Aperture!!! which hogs system resources worse than anything since Capture NX.

Maybe my problems were my solution, after all.
(Oh yes! there was first a Mac Mini that arrived with a dud DVD drive packed in a laptop case. Say no more!

By harrappeter on 24 Oct 2011

YES THEY ARE!!!

I had changed from PC to Mac to work on Final Cut Pro. I bought an 8 core mac pro and a 17 inch Macbook Pro.

All was hunky dory till Apple decided, in their infinite wisdom, do severely dumb-down Final Cut Pro into a iMovie on steroids app which has horrified almost all the pro editors I know.

We have largely left Final Cut for Avid or Premiere pro, and I have also sold my 8 core and bought a fantastically fast PC and have the MacBook on ebay.

I will never buy another Apple product. I strongly dislike the way they work. As a professional, I deeply respect the commitment Adobe has to it's products and customers, and know they will never turn their backs on their customers like Apple did.

By fredphoesh on 1 Nov 2011

The Myth of "it just works"

As I mentioned above, I had 2 Pro mac machines.

They crashed and froze more often than my beige boxed generic, cheap old PC with 2gb ram, slowly running windows7.

There has been the cliche that macs "just work". They do, but certainly no more so than any windows 7 machine I have used.

By fredphoesh on 1 Nov 2011

hee hee! Most of my computer-using friends and relations use Macs. For years I have been pitied, like a poor relation, for obstinately sticking to Windows in spite of the fact that Macs are vastly superior. But I have always enjoyed far greater computing power for the money and, contrary to the propaganda, have had a succession of easily upgraded, solid, reliable machines.
So I find it hard to summon any sympathy for the (generally) holier-than-thou Apple users if everything in their garden is not entirely rosy.

By laughton on 3 Nov 2011

hee hee! Most of my computer-using friends and relations use Macs. For years I have been pitied, like a poor relation, for obstinately sticking to Windows in spite of the fact that Macs are vastly superior. But I have always enjoyed far greater computing power for the money and, contrary to the propaganda, have had a succession of easily upgraded, solid, reliable machines.
So I find it hard to summon any sympathy for the (generally) holier-than-thou Apple users if everything in their garden is not entirely rosy.

By laughton on 3 Nov 2011

hee hee! Most of my computer-using friends and relations use Macs. For years I have been pitied, like a poor relation, for obstinately sticking to Windows in spite of the fact that Macs are vastly superior. But I have always enjoyed far greater computing power for the money and, contrary to the propaganda, have had a succession of easily upgraded, solid, reliable machines.
So I find it hard to summon any sympathy for the (generally) holier-than-thou Apple users if everything in their garden is not entirely rosy.

By laughton on 3 Nov 2011

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